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Uber is bringing audio recording, irregular ride checks and authentication code safety features to India – TechCrunch

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Uber said today it is beginning to roll out three safety features in India as the American ride-hailing firm looks to improve its service in one of its most important overseas markets.

The new features include an intervention from Uber when there is a long unplanned stop in a ride, and the introduction of a four-digit authentication code to ensure a passenger is getting in the right cab. Both the features are rolling out to users starting today, company executives said at a press event in New Delhi.

Uber has previously rolled out these features in the U.S., and Ola, its local rival in India, has also offered these functionalities for a long time. Uber said it will also allow riders and drivers in India to record their entire trip if they are feeling uncomfortable and send it to the company. This feature, Uber said, will be in the testing phase in the country later this year. (Ola does not offer this feature, but local bus ride sharing service Shuttl has tested this in the past.)

The first feature, dubbed Ride Check, activates in the event of a long, unexpected stop or other irregularities in a ride. When Uber detects that, it calls both the rider and the driver to check if everything is alright. The company relies on the driver partner’s smartphone to detect any abruption.

Uber’s Sachin Kansal talks about new safety features at an event in New Delhi

Ola has been testing a similar feature called ‘Guardian’ since September 2018. The startup said last month that it was rolling out Guardian in over a dozen Indian cities and Perth in Australia.

Uber is also rolling out a feature that would require passengers to provide a 4-digit pin to verify if they are in the right car. Until they have provided the authentication code, the ride will not begin. India’s Ola has provided this feature for several years.

Additionally, Uber said it has partnered with Manas Foundation, which has conducted thousands of customised gender sensitisation workshops for driver partners in India to make the platform safer for women. More than 50,000 driver partners have already been trained, the company said.

Sachin Kansal, Senior Director of Global Safety Products at Uber, said the company has been piloting and refining these features in different markets globally. “Privacy is incredibly important for Uber and all these tools are designed keeping that in mind. We will continue to refine these technologies so we can help make every ride a 5-star experience for all.”



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Old Google Pay in the US will become useless in April

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It isn’t exactly out of the ordinary that Google retires an app or service in favor of a new one. Often, but not always, it waits for the new version to at least be ready for the all old users to switch to. That didn’t actually happen smoothly in the transition to YouTube Music but hopefully, Google Pay will be a different story. No, users are just being pushed to a new version of the Google Pay app and the company will be forcing users’ hands by making the old one practically useless in April.

The new Google Pay announced late last year is both a redesign of the old app as well as a consolidation of its confusing “G Pay” brand of the past. It wasn’t a one-for-one replacement of the old Google Pay, with some of its features moved to other parts of the Google Play services framework. That said, it also added more features that the old app didn’t have and will never have since it has been deprecated.

Not all users may have moved over to the new Google Pay app by now for one reason or another but they may have no other choice soon. Come April 5, the old Google pay app will lose its ability to send or receive money, view past transactions, or even see your remaining balance. In other words, you’ll still be able to open the app but can’t do anything else unless you move to the new app.

This change, however, applies only to the US, according to Google’s confirmation to Android Police. The new Google Pay app isn’t available in other markets yet so those will keep the status quo, at least for now. Curiously, there is no mention of other markets that do have the new Google Pay app already.

The new Google Pay app is apparently still marked as Early Access, suggesting it’s still in pre-release development. That could change before April 5, however, and there’s still plenty of time to polish up the app before that deadline.

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Samsung Exynos with AMD Radeon GPU could come in a laptop first

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Although Qualcomm and, to some extent, Rockchip, have long been on some laptops running Windows and Chrome OS, respectively, the arrival of the Apple Silicon M1 showed how the market for ARM-based desktops and laptops is still wide open to competition. There are, however, only a few big names that could probably be a good fit for that kind of device and it seems that Samsung’s biggest Exynos gamble will be heading to laptops first instead of smartphones.

Given that Samsung’s Exynos processors have so far been used mostly in smartphones, it was natural to presume that its partnership with AMD back in 2019 would be applied to mobile devices initially. That is reinforced by the strong mobile gaming trends and Qualcomm’s dominance in smartphone graphics. That was also a year before the Apple M1 showed up to flaunt its desktop prowess but it seems that Samsung might have already been thinking ahead.

According to ZDNet Korea’s industry sources, the Exynos 2200, which is believed to be the name of the next Samsung processor, will actually power a Windows 10 laptop in the second half of the year. This is the same processor that’s believed to be the first of its kind to utilize AMD’s Radeon graphics technology, something that’s definitely needed to run something as heavy as Windows 10, even its ARM version.

If true, this would directly challenge Qualcomm’s so far exclusive role in the Windows 10 on ARM market. It will definitely be interesting to see the combination of Exynos and AMD technologies will prove to be more powerful than what Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Compute series has to offer. The performance of Snapdragon-based Windows 10 laptops and tablets have so far been modest at best, including the Surface Pro X with the custom Snapdragon SQ2 chip.

If all goes well, this Exynos 2220 Windows laptop could also benefit Microsoft indirectly, giving Windows on ARM a much-needed boost. With M1 Macs’ benchmarks and performance reviews flying high, Windows on ARM definitely needs all the help it can get.

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Raspberry Pi and OpenScan make a better 3D scanner than your phone

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I have a question about 3D scanning devices: Why aren’t they easier to access? Today a project by Thomas Megel made the rest of the handheld smart device universe look silly by comparison. With OpenScan project software, Raspberry Pi, and the Pi camera v2.1, Megel created a budget-friendly 3D-scanning system that’s able to capture highly accurate 10-micron 3D scans with relative ease.

Megel is the founder of OpenScan, a system with which users can create 3D scanning hardware and process with software without breaking the bank. OpenScan started based on an Arduino-powered control unit and pre-built cameras. Here in 2021, the project works with an even simpler set of items: Raspberry Pi and a Raspberry Pi Camera Module.

Per Megel, the system Megel’s used can capture sub-50-micron accuracy with the basic Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2.1. The 10-micron accuracy comes with a slightly better Raspberry Pi HQ Camera Module. Megel explains the basic process in a Reddit thread and points users toward the OpenScan subReddit. The OpenScan Sketchfab page shows a variety of items that’ve been 3D scanned and processed with OpenScan software.

Experimental cloud software “OpenScanCloud” processing can be found in the OpenScan Github (for the cloud) and the entire OpenScan directory has “all you need to build your 3D scanner.” This was all done by a 3d-party, not-for-profit set of individuals – and it’s shockingly simple and effective.

With LiDAR and other 3D sensor systems on smartphones that cost over $1k in user hands right now, I can’t help but wonder why a 3D scanning camera system isn’t more readily available. This should be the most basic and easily-usable part of a smart device with a 3D sensor, right out the gate. Cross your fingers this project will push big brands in smartphones to include similar software in the near future by default.

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